Once upon a time . . .

The IBM/PC Users Group of Redding grew up out of a loose-knit club called RUCUS. That was the acronym for REDDING'S UNUSUAL COMPUTER USERS SOCIETY. The name was given to it by Glenn Bond, owner of G.M.B. "Everybody our age knows what it is to RAISE A RUCUS!" said Glenn on many occasions. RUCUS started at a pizza parlor and met in the basement of the Redding Library at least once. But the small group needed more privacy; Arden Howser, who was with Caltrans, managed to get use of a classroom in their facility. The Club met at Caltrans for about a year and a half. Meetings were in the classroom area first then moved to the basement. When we went to the basement the door upstairs had to be locked at all times in the evening. Anyone who was not there at the start had to wait until someone at the meeting came upstairs to check and see if there was someone waiting.

In the early days of RUCUS only a few of the members had IBM or IBM compatible computers. There was everything from Timex Sinclairs, Apples, Ataris, Commodores, to Texas Instruments 99s and Franklins. Many times at the meetings people who had other operating systems did not understand a word of the presentations. When asked if he got anything out of the meetings one man, who had a Timex Sinclair, said, "No, but I want to be around computer people and someday I'll get an IBM!"

In 1982 the Club moved to a downstairs room at the First Presbyterian Church in Redding and has been meeting there ever since; growth of the membership forced a later move to the larger Social Hall upstairs. Great strides in the membership occurred with the advent of GRACE, which is a yearly show at the Mt. Shasta Mall of many interested computer groups. The first couple of years, there were so many enthusiastic members wanting to introduce the computer to others that we had to take turns at the tables provided. Each year the membership has grown with many people signing up for membership at the GRACE computer show. We also had the opportunity to move from the side hall in the mall to the center section--after all, we are the largest computer club in this part of the state.

As one of our main goals is education, we have offered several all day workshops to beginning computer users in the community. They consisted of a hands-on learning of what is inside the computer; a quick/basic course in DOS, the autoexec.bat and the config.sys; plus how to install a program. We had lots of member volunteers to help so that every participant could have one-on-one attention. One eager-to-learn person brought three--yes, 3--computers; he wanted to learn how to use them all. The most exciting part of the workshops always seemed to be when you took the cover off of your own computer and learned what was inside.

The SIG (Special Interest Group) meetings have also proven to be highly successful educational vehicles. The first one was started when Bob Edkin was president. It was, you guessed it, on WINDOWS. Since then we have established additional SIG’s when needed. Topics vary according to current interest, and attendance at these meetings is variable, but consistent. A BASIC programming SIG was attempted at one time, but the only people who showed up for the first meeting were two couples who thought it was a SIG for the basics of computer use. Needless to say, the Basic SIG did not last long. However, in 1996 we did established a New Users SIG for those new to computing--which has become very well attended! The Internet SIG, Financial SIG, and Genealogy SIG have also been very popular.

The first announced and scheduled Board meeting was held at the Brown Bag restaurant out on Twin View Blvd. and lasted less than an hour each time. There was no printed agenda and the secretary had a little spiral 3x5 notebook that she would take notes in...but could never read them at the next meeting. The Board meetings were almost wholly taken up by discussion of the next meeting topic in which one of the "old-timers" were going to make a presentation.

When Paul Fardig was president of the Club, he would bring his Compaq Plus portable computer to the meetings. It was the latest thing--10Mb hard drive and a 5" square monochrome screen. Members gathered around the machine, shoulder to shoulder, and had to take turns. At this time there were about 15 members in attendance at the general meetings. The Board of directors started to meet regularly. During Tony DeMarco's presidency, with the help of Joe Melhorn, a 4-way monitor splitter was built that hooked up 4 monochrome monitors in a line with space between to enable a few more persons to see the programs under discussion. But it was still hard for people to see the monitors and they often took a lot of time to set up and sometimes didn’t work. One time a member became so frustrated at not being able to see the monitor screen that he brought binoculars!

Under Bob Edkin's leadership the Club purchased a second-hand Electrohome ECP 2000 High Resolution Projector that was affectionately nicknamed "Cyclops." This permitted comfortable viewing for all until 1994 when repairs on "Cyclops" became prohibitively expensive. "Cyclops" had also proved not portable enough to take to SIG meetings held at other locations.

Also, at this time, the Club name was changed from RUCUS to IBM/PC Users Group of Redding (IBM/PCUG). It was thought that a name that more easily identified the Club was more appropriate, however, there are still some "old-timers" who sigh affectionately over the old name. About this time, also, we became exclusively an IBM compatible computer club.

When Rush Blodget was president he led and held a successful fund-raising drive to replace "Cyclops" with a light-weight active matrix projection panel and a high intensity overhead projector. We have been using it ever since; it has been a very helpful addition to presentations and is often used at SIG meetings.

Back in the days when we were meeting in the Cal Caltrans building, we actually started a Shareware Library, however, it was not very successful because the Librarian often did not show up for meetings. By the time we were meeting downstairs in the Presbyterian Church we had another Librarian, but he often did not show either and did not last very long. The library became a vital part of the Club when Bill Stuart, with the assistance of George Murphy, took over the library. He organized the files and bought a Bernoulli drive to store thousands of files in a categorized and easy-to-find way.

He introduced the Disk of the Month and made available on disk a complete catalog of all files in the library. He also showed up for every meeting--with the library! We now have not only all of the original library files, but all of the files that can be downloaded from the Internet plus. And, thanks to contributions from members, over 100 books, videos, and tapes in our Lending Library--all of them available to members for the borrowing.

The IBM/PCUG would have a very hard time staying in existence without a newsletter. In reality, that almost happened because the newsletter editor failed to produce the newsletter regularly, sometimes it appeared and sometimes it didn’t. The 30 or so members of the Caltrans era dwindled down to less than ten. In a historic meeting, club-wise that is, the few dedicated people who showed up for the meeting started the Club out on its rebirth. Besides the officers present, Paul Fardig, Joe Melhorn, Cliff Baker, and Arden Howser, there were Tony DeMarco, Don Reynolds (past president), Mahlon Kirk and Dorothy Kirk. The most important things seemed to be putting out a newsletter every month and planning effective programs for meetings. To this end Dorothy and Mahlon agreed to write and send out the newsletter and Tony took care of membership and program planning.

The newsletter, and better programming, did its work well as month by month the membership increased. Dorothy wrote all of the articles except for a few articles usually submitted by Cliff Baker. The Rucus Newsletter, as it was called then, was prepared with a Cad program and a $50 desktop publishing program. The then owner of Computer Place offered to let us use his copy machine to print the newsletter. However, since the copy machine was often not working right, the quality of the newsletter was not good.

In 1985 the IBM/PCUG "computerized" it's financial records with a program called PCCHECK. It was not until 1993 that Cliff Baker began an incorporation procedure that resulted in a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation on September 7th of that year. Then, after a battle, a letter of determination from the IRS gave us bulk mailing ability.

With the non-profit status came a change of name for the Club from Rucus to the IBM/PC Users Group of Redding; a change in the name of the newsletter from The Rucus Newsletter to the Motherboard; a new Motherboard editor, Debbie King; the use of professional layout software (Adobe Pagemaker) for production; a professional copy service for reproduction and bindery; and a team of Club volunteers for distribution. Under the editorship of Debbie the newsletter acquired a new level of professionalism offering regular columns and contributed articles. (AND, since then we have never missed a single issue!) In early 1997 Teri Sorgatz, DTP SIG Leader and then President,  redesigned the Motherboard, and began actively promoting the Software Evaluation Program. The newsletter content began to benefit from the contributions of many Club members. Then, in 1998, under the editorship of Judi Bottema, the Motherboard won 2nd place for "Overall" Excellence, and 3rd place in the Design & Layout category, in an APCUG "Editors of Excellence" competition at Fall Comdex Conference. A team of editors, under the guidance of Judy Ball, took up the editorship in 1999.

In 1996, under the leadership of Teri Sorgatz, the Club chose to standardize its records on the Microsoft Office Suite and Intuit's Quicken. Bob Rice, Membership Chair, built a comprehensive relational database in Access. He used it to maintain Club membership records and to produce labels for the newsletter mailings. Bob passed this database on to Eugenia Goodman, as a new Membership Chair, in 1999. The Quicken financial database was developed by Judi Bottema and passed to Christina Schlosser, as a new Treasurer, in 1997.

The Board of Directors made a ruling late in 1995 that after January 1996 all Board members must possess E-mail addresses. This was to facilitate communications and exchange of Club information between Board members and the General Membership.  At that time the Club acquired an Internet account and Web space for a new Club Website that used to be at http://www.snowcrest.net, but which has since been removed.   The function of the Club Website (originally designed by Teri Sorgatz and Doug Bennett) was to serve as a point of contact with the public, an up-to-date source of information about Club activities and services, an E-mail directory of  Club members, and a way to digitally distribute the Motherboard newsletter. The Internet account and Website space was, and continues to be, generously donated by Snowcrest Computer Specialties. Mid-year 1996 the Club had the honor of winning 3rd place in the UGSC Southwestern Regional Competition, for its Computer User Group WebSite. Soon after the posting of the Club WebSite, Teri Sorgatz also began to mediate the Club E-mail Support List and Vendor Press Release List.

From 1996 to 1998 the Club membership continued to grow to an all-time high, partly owing to an active recruitment strategy. In those years the Club participated in the G.R.A.C.E. Computer Show, had a booth at a technology show at the Shasta Fairgrounds, obtained press coverage on several occasions, set up and manned a Club information table at the (now defunct) Redding Egghead computer store, and worked cooperatively with other local clubs and retirement centers. With ample funds in the bank, the membership was able to first purchase and donate new window blinds, then later purchase materials to replace a torn projection screen, for the meeting hall at the First Presbyterian Church.

The Board of Directors, this time under the leadership of Eric Olzak, voted again in 1998 to upgrade the presentation equipment. An IBM Pentium laptop was purchased and, because of its portability, began to be frequently used at the SIG meetings in conjunction with the matrix panel. At this time Jane Quinn, then Club Secretary, was appointed SIG and Equipment Chair.

--Adapted from an article written by Cliff Baker, former Club Secretary, that appeared in the Motherboard, June 1993 and materials offered by Rush Blodget, 1994 President; Dorothy and Mahlon Kirk, former Directors; and Teri Sorgatz, 1996-97 President.